Earning income is crucial to financial wellbeing, but it’s tough to earn if you’re replaced by a worker who never sleeps, gets tired, or asks for a pay rise – these workers are called robots!
At first, robots will make existing jobs more productive. But ultimately, jobs will be lost as robots assume more and more of the work. One famous Oxford study went as far as suggesting that 47 percent of total American jobs are at risk, and there’s no reason to think the figures would be any different in New Zealand. It’s not all doom and gloom though, as most commentators think the transition will happen slowly enough, that people who want to work can up-skill and learn how to operate machinery, manufacture the high-tech equipment, and service and support these new systems.
Despite what many people might think, it’s not just simple manual labour tasks that can be replaced by robots. Let’s look at the top 10 jobs likely to be replaced by technology.
1. Taxi drivers
Traditional taxi drivers are already feeling the pinch from the likes of Uber and Lyft, and drivers of all three will see their jobs dry up as autonomous vehicles hit the road. Believe it or not, it’s the ride-share companies who reportedly can’t wait to rush their drivers out of the car. As Uber’s CEO has said, it’s service would be a lot more inexpensive and its profits much greater if you weren’t “…paying for that other dude in the car.” Over the next 10 years, cities across the world will have fleets of self-driving taxis. Uber is testing such vehicles and Singapore is the first country to already put a dozen on the roads.
At the same time, self-driving cars are taking a lot longer to develop than expected, so this might take a lot longer than some of the experts think.
For most of the last 200 years, technology has been replacing jobs on the farm. Moving forwards, this trend will ramp-up as farmers are increasingly replaced by artificially intelligent robots. Robots will likely make inroads fastest in areas where the work is backbreaking, and when peak harvest times increase the demand for workers.
Most robots have been built for specialized tasks such as: grapevine pruning, lettuce thinning, strawberry picking and cow-milking. But corn and other ‘commodity crops’ are already taking advantage of economies of scale to get ahead of the cost curve. For instance, large corn farmers in the US are buying features like self-steering tractors to save money.
Moving forwards, it’s entirely feasible that content sites of the future could exist without any human writers.
4. Financial advisers and analysts
That’s right, we freely admit our world is changing too!
Human financial analysts may not be able to compete with artificially intelligent financial software that can recognise trends and far more reliably predict future market moves.
Talk of “robo advisers” replacing financial advisers has been going for some time. Even in our own firm, newly implemented software can far more rapidly compile information and assist the adviser to arrive at a very logical solution. Fortunately for us, so far this hasn’t replaced our jobs, and instead has meant more time focussed-on and spent with the very people we’re assisting!
5. Bank tellers and representatives
First it was the automatic teller machine (ATM) that ate into human banking jobs, then phone-banking, then the smartphone app.
Commentators now say it’s likely that many of the remaining human-based teller and representative banking jobs will be finished off by AI. This is because AI is soon expected to be able to open accounts and process loans, all at a fraction of the cost and time it takes for human employees.
6. Accountants and lawyers
Many accountants and lawyers currently spend a large part of their day performing duties such as; trawling through large amounts of data, proofreading, and compiling information. These tasks can be rapidly and flawlessly performed by well-programmed computers or AI.
Especially for accountants, this has started taking hold already with accounting systems such as Xero. Systems such as this means many businesses no longer need a human employee for monitoring and tracking the payables and receivables.
Global heavyweight companies such as FedEx, Amazon, and UPS have all revealed exciting plans in this area. This means it's only a matter of time until this space is dominated by automation.
8. Retail salespeople
A lot more people are shopping online, but even if you've visited a mall, car dealership, or furniture store lately, you might not have been assisted by a salesperson at all. Companies are simplifying the shopping experience with features like self-checkout, and the modern buyer is much more internet-savvy and prepared to do internet research and make a purchasing decision before they even set foot in a store.
Globally, this is probably the largest area where people are scared that robots will take their jobs. Luckily, New Zealand doesn’t have many factory workers relative to other countries, so the impact here will be less than overseas.
10. IT and computer support
With a rapid increase in online content, tips, guidelines, and instructions, many large companies now rely on automated robots called ‘chatbots’ and other software to answer customer support questions and frequently answered questions (FAQ).
Chatbots can respond to inquiries 24/7, which suits many busy customers who are already accustomed to sending short text messages to friends and family.
The bottom line
To recap, here are the top 10 jobs most likely to be impacted by technology: